by Christian Duque
Speculation is growing as to whether or not Nick will be doing the 2024 Arnold Classic. I think it’s a mistake for him not to do the second biggest show in bodybuilding as it will put money in his pocket and also qualify him for the 2024 Mr Olympia.
There is a growing number of people within the press section of the sport that believe he will be a leading candidate for receiving a special invite. Let me stress from the beginning of this article that I think that that would be a catastrophic misstep for the sport. This former Arnold Classic champion and top three Olympian does not need to get a free pass to the front of the line. We have seen this procedure misused in the past. in 2020 Big Ramy used it and won the biggest competition in the sport. In 2022 Derek Lunsford was able to use it and didn’t even bother trying to qualify for the contest. He took second place and this year is Mr Olympia.
I think that the special invite should be done away with unless it is given to competitors that are active duty military, perhaps advanced in age, or have some other setback that prevents them from being able to qualify just like everybody else. And I also think it should be used for people that will be blessed with an appearance on the stage but do not have a realistic chance of winning. if they have a realistic chance of winning they should qualify just like everybody else.
It’s very understandable that given his injury he will need a considerable amount of time to recover. I totally understand how difficult it must be for somebody on this level to be able to adequately take the amount of time necessary to make a full recovery but at the same time remain competitive.
It may unfortunately be the reality that we do not see him compete again until 2025 and if that’s the case then so be it. I hope that he has contingencies in place from a career perspective that will allow him to miss a year without going broke. Unfortunately a lot of competitors do not make preparations should a day come when they cannot compete. I also don’t know what Nick’s situation is like with his sponsors. Are they requiring him to compete in 2024 or will they stand by him in the hopes he makes a full recovery?
These are things that I do not know but Walker will have to make a decision based on his own health and well-being. The better he takes care of himself in his younger days, the longer he will be able to enjoy this career and the longevity that he may or may not have. That being said, if he plans on sitting around waiting for Pittsburgh to give him a special invite then I suspect he may be disappointed as the sport is going in a different direction.
The whole point of reducing the number of automatic qualifications is to ensure the best bodybuilders in the world compete more. We were seeing bad attendance with the top five over the years where they simply did not want to compete, they did not want to go to fitness expos, make in-store appearances or see the fans throughout the world. The federation became aware of this and I suspect the promoter of the Olympia did as well.
The best bodybuilders need to be seen and they need to be where people are at. Having a strong social media presence is not enough. There is only so much you can do on Instagram and Facebook. The fans want to see the greatest bodybuilders in person and anything short of that is not going to grow this sport. Although the purists are happy with bodybuilding being popular with a select few, the fitness industry wants to grow and it wants mainstream support. In order to get that mainstream support the bodybuilders need to come out from behind their phones and desktop computers and they need to shake hands, give high fives, and even flex and pose for throngs of devoted fans. This is why when Kai Greene went to India he was mobbed wherever he went. That’s the way the sport needs to be all over the planet. And it’s going to take the very best bodybuilders in the world to carry the torch to places that normally don’t see them.
One thing that I would suggest from a journalistic standpoint would be for Nick to tour the world. He has some great sponsors and he has a tremendous fanbase. While I would discourage him from competing at all in 2024 – unless he’s made a full recovery – I would strongly advise him against disappearing from the sport.
Look at Chris Bumstead and the amount of money that he brings the companies that he works with. The fact that he continues to compete may provide him with some personal satisfaction, but he certainly does not need to compete at the Olympia in order to make his sponsors money. Whenever he makes an appearance and it’s an appearance that’s planned for the audience, the numbers are spectacular. People will drive as much as 5 hours just to meet him for a few seconds. And I suspect the same could be said for Nick Walker in certain markets around the world.
What Nick needs to do is focus on making his sponsors money and continuing to grow his fan base. Competing is not all it’s cracked up to be and if he is injured he is not going to be at his best. I have often said if you cannot bring 100% don’t bother getting on stage. It’s not going to help your reputation and if anything it may hurt it in the long run. There is no sense for him to compete unless he’s going to make a full recovery. Once again if he was any other competitor that might not be the case but we are talking about an Arnold Classic champion and somebody who has finished top three at the Olympia. He has a legacy to protect and it should be protected so that he will have longevity in this sport.
Whatever Nick decides to do, we’re all rooting for him here at Iron Magazine. And yes, even though he has me blocked, I think he’s got tons of potential and I want to see him reach for the stars. He needs to pace himself and not rush the process. If he can’t compete in 2024, then he waits until 2025. He’s got PLENTY years to compete. And while I’m pushing for a full recovery, I don’t think not competing to properly heal is an extenuating-enough circumstance to get a special invite. I just don’t. If it were up to me, we’d scrap the whole concept, but it does have a place in limited circumstances.
What’s your take on The Mutant in 2024. Will he compete? Should be compete? And is there any point to him taking the stage if he can’t bring 100%? As always, thanks for reading my article here at Iron Magazine. Be sure to share a link to this article on your social media feeds. It’s guaranteed to spark off some great conversation!